Exploring the Impact of SoTL on Day-to-Day Learning and Teaching: A Conceptual Framework for Professional Development and Quality Improvement

Exploring the Impact of SoTL on Day-to-Day Learning and Teaching: A Conceptual Framework for Professional Development and Quality Improvement

Andrea Rose Carr (University of Tasmania, Australia), Jo-Anne Kelder (University of Tasmania, Australia) and Joseph Crawford (University of Tasmania, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2212-7.ch020
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The Curriculum Evaluation Research (CER) Framework was developed as a response to increasing scrutiny and expectations of the higher education sector, including legislated standards for curriculum and professional teachers that explicitly require a systematic and comprehensive approach to evaluating curriculum. The CER Framework is designed to facilitate a scholarly environment to drive and assure the quality of a curriculum and the capabilities of its teaching team. It stems from a synthesis of teacher as action researcher (TAAR), quality improvement (QI), quality assurance (QA), and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) applied to the curriculum as it is designed, taught, and revised. In this chapter, the implementation of the CER Framework to the University College is reviewed and evaluated. The University College is an organisational unit comprises approximately 600 students and 80 staff. This chapter includes a reflection on the barriers and enablers of implementing the CER Framework.
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Globally, universities are facing scrutiny in relation to the quality of educational services they provide and outcomes for students. The higher education sector presents a radically evolving education market characterised by competition, efficiency dividends, and transformation towards mass education (Leathwood & Phillips, 2000). In the United Kingdom, a National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (The Dearing Report: NCIHE, 1997) articulated a 20-year vision for a learning society underpinned by teaching, scholarship, and research. In Australia, the Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations commissioned a similar review (Bradley et al., 2008) into higher education, which articulated sector-wide limitations related to assurance of quality in learning and teaching practice.

Beyond the challenge of assurance of quality is the need to demonstrate continuous development of academic staff capabilities in learning and teaching. For example, the OECD (2008) recognised and praised the New Zealand higher education staff professional development strategy that enabled effective responses to increasing diversity via larger international enrolments. In a UK study (n = 2,649 staff), Knight et al. (2008) highlight that professional development capability, including teaching and learning skill, is of growing concern within the higher education setting.

This chapter presents a case study of one response to Australian regulatory requirements for scholarship and expectations that institutions and their teaching staff demonstrate continuous improvement of curriculum (here referring to a program of study leading to an award, for example a Diploma of Business Studies, Bachelor of Music, Master of Information Systems). Specifically, the Higher Education Standards Framework (HES Framework) 2015, includes standards specifically referring to scholarship, supported by a Guidance Note: Scholarship (TEQSA, 2018) to articulate requirements for an institution to support and resource a “scholarly environment” and for all teaching staff to be actively engaged in scholarship related to the curriculum.

We begin with an overview of the Australian higher education sector within which we situate this case study. We articulate two themes: curriculum evaluation and professional development of higher education teachers. We then introduce the Curriculum Evaluation Research (CER) Framework, adopted by a number of teaching teams within the higher education sector across Australia. This has enabled a holistic approach to the wide range of institutional issues in relation to quality of teaching and learning. Curriculum evaluation is presented from three quality orientations: Quality Improvement (QI), Quality Assurance (QA) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)—a formulation underpinning the CER Framework from its inception (Kelder & Carr, 2016). Conceptually, the CER Framework provides a way to organize for the integration and alignment of scholarship, quality improvement and quality assurance with professional development. Professional development of teachers in the higher education sector is presented in the context of viewing Teachers As Action Researchers (TAAR: Laurillard, 2008), specifically addressing professional development opportunities for staff identified as part of the implementation of the CER Framework. By providing a way of synthesizing the two themes, the CER Framework can be used to facilitate a collaborative, teaching team-based practice of iterative cycles of activity, guided by three orientations to quality over the life cycle of a curriculum and highlighting opportunities for informal and formal professional development.

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